The cock-up and ‘bull’ story of HSBC and Aviva in Espania…

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QUESTION:

 

My wife and I set off on an extended break in Europe on June 11, 2017, intending to return to the UK in mid to late September.

Before we went we called in our the HSBC branch in the Midlands to inform them that our cards etc would be used for an extended period abroad. We also asked for our travel insurance to be extended from the normal 31 day cover.

Within a few days we received our new policy documents but didn’t spot at the time that the documents had different policy numbers.

And we went on our travels convinced that we were covered – why else would HSBC have sorted out our cards etc and sent us new policy documents before we left?

However, on August 5, 2017, while going through our travel documents we spotted what appeared to us to be the anomaly in the document numbers (the difference in numbers has now been explained) …

We also realised that our travel cover had not been extended.

This means of course that we have no insurance other than that covered by EHIC.

We called Aviva and were told that they could not extend our travel cover because the underwriters say that we ‘should have checked our documents earlier’.

This was just ‘bull’ and only part of the reason!

Aviva recommended that we ‘go on the internet’ and search for extended travel insurance, which we did.

Is it not wholly outrageous of Aviva to avoid extending our cover because we ‘didn’t check our documents quickly enough’ ? What length of time do people have to check their documents before Aviva deems them invalid?

Although ultimately it turns out the real reason was because we’d only booked one-way tickets and had no firm return date.

Of course HSBC have made a mistake by not extending our policy as requested and to have then issued new policy documents indicating that they had, but Aviva’s decision is very callous and unforgiving.

Help please! What can we do?

A and L

Shropshire

 

ANSWER:

 

Well, we’ve spoken to Aviva, the Association of British Insurers, the FCA and HSBC bank … and what a convoluted tale this turns out to be.

Aviva initially said there was nothing to be done, the main reason for your insurance being turned down was not  because you hadn’t read your documentation quickly enough – although they admitted the remark had been made – but the real reason you were turned down for insurance, as you say, was the fact that you had not booked a return flight from Spain.

They say the policy is not designed to insure open-ended journeys – basically if you want to be insured by them you need to be able to tell them when you are heading home! No exceptions …

However, they did offer to extend your insurance but for a wholly staggering amount. At one point it looked like you would need to have booked a flight home AND paid them more than  £50 a week! A wholly inexplicable figure when you consider your original 31 day travel cover was only part of the £9 a month fee for having an HSBC account.

Anyway, things got a bit better when they were asked to explain how they arrived at the weekly coverage fee and – wait for it – they came back a couple of hours later to offer you full travel insurance for the rest of your trip at just over £1 a day.

Well, all we can say is thank you Aviva for seeing sense and doing the decent thing. Well done!

The Association of British Insurers however, as far as we are concerned didn’t do so well. Suffice to say a fairly long conversation with one of their media team boiled down to one thing, they weren’t interested in discussing your plight and wouldn’t talk about an individual company. They do however sing the praises of Aviva on their website.

The Financial Conduct Authority seemed a bit more concerned but ultimately they only had this to say – In general if a customer is not happy with their insurance policy or how it has been sold to them they should complain to the firm directly and then if they are still not happy they can take this forward to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) :   http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/

Glad the consumerwatchfoundation.com could get it sorted!

Have you had any problems with travel or any other kind of insurance?

Tell us your tale at http://www.consumerwatchfoundation.com/send-us-story/

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